Friday, August 17, 2012

Protecting Your Quiet Time

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 
Photo by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 143:9
me from my enemies, 
for I hide myself in you.

This morning is one of those days where I have had to protect my quiet time.  I don't have a set time to be up. I wake up naturally, well sort of naturally. The dog makes sure I'm up because she is starving to death and her tummy won't wait another second. Thankfully if I let her out and then feed her she will settle back down and sleep after doing her duty of making sure I have gotten up for my quiet time. Its a small price to pay for such a faithful alarm clock.
My husband works nights and is generally not home or not awake between 5 am and 8am in the space where my quiet time generally happens. Today he had a local job and got home early having had way too much caffeine and was way too wound up. He started sharing with me all the things on his mind. My mind needs to warm up in the morning - we've been married a while now - he should know that by now. I tried putting a blanket over my head and asked him to stop chattering at me. I really need my quiet time. That did not work and he continued to tease and pester me and say how quirky I am in the morning.  I realized I was not going to get any peace with him in the room. I probably get the bad wife award for not dropping everything and being totally attentive to my husband. He gets the bad husband award today for not honoring my quiet time with the Lord. I finally had to gather up my stuff and head to the bathroom. So the bathroom has become my quiet place this morning. I've turned on The Healing Refuge and have drawn bath water have spent time literally soaking before the Lord. 

Eventually my mind does warm up and I am able to write these devotional posts. Some days the Lord is helping me deal with concerns. Today is not one of those kind of days. I have had to reign in my own thoughts that some mornings want to race ahead to all the things I want to work on. Today I have had to fight to maintain a center in him. I think at this point I have put my own ideas to the side and and isolated myself away from my husbands chatter. It seems to be more of a rest in Him kind of morning at this point. I get the feeling that what He wants me to share with you is that sometimes there are all kinds of distractions and he waits to see if we will push past them because time in His presence is truly important to us. Is He really my first priority or is he my last resort? For some of you reading He is your last resort. When you have exhausted everything else you turn to him with your tired left overs and your problems.  I suppose He is blessed that you turn to him at all. This is not meant to be a condemning guilt trip. More of a heart check - is he first in your heart?

What are the things in your life that try to crowd him out and to rob from you that quiet place in his presence. There are things I have learned to do to guard and protect my quiet time. I make a point to get up in the early morning when my household is still quiet. When no one needs me for anything and can just sit with the Lord. Even then I sometimes need to silence my own busy thoughts. I sometimes do that by making lists so I remember to think about those things later. Sometimes I just need to journal and talk through an idea or an issue through with the Lord. Its not like I have to get to some mystic holy place to commune with the Lord. I just need to invite Him in to share not only my happy at peace thoughts but those that trouble me as well. Some mornings I am just too tired and I tell the Lord how much I love him and want to spend time with him but I am so tired, Im not sure I can manage much of a conversation. On those days He holds me in his arms. On those days I will often do things to feed my spirit that require little effort on my part. Things like setting my i-phone to the Healing Refuge and letting those songs minister to my spirit. I am ever grateful that my friends Mark and Lori Kenney had the faith to step out and launch the wonderful variety of Healing Stream on line stations. My favorite for my quiet time is the Healing Refuge. I've put links in this post so you can get there and enjoy it. I hope if you like it you will consider giving a donation to help support that ministry. On mornings like today it is part of what has rescued my quiet time.

Other things that I do is... I show up. I don't always know how the Lord and I will spend that time. Time with Him is among my first things each day. I saw a great demonstration once. If you take a jar and fill it with rice and big balls of foil it demonstrates in a profound way that if you put in the big balls of foil first and then pour in the rice all the little stuff some how fits around the big things. If you fill it with rice first  and the balls second the big balls never fit. It is true of our life. Your priorities are the big balls put them into your day first and all the little concerns will some how fit in and around those things. I run at a pretty high speed and have a lot of things that I am working on and involved in. Some days before I go to bed I make a list of the most important things to get done. There are days that are crazy busy and there is no way that it will all fit and I ask the Lord to come in and bring order. To go before me and lead me through the mine field and some how things work out. Someone will call and cancel or other things will mesh together and in the end I know that the Lord has helped me.

I suppose one of the things that I remember is to be grateful to not take things for granted. I make a point to take the time in the morning to invite the Lord in to the day. To ask Him if there are things that are important to him for me to do. I have been trying to turn my prayers around to not be me telling God what I want to do and have him bless but ask him what he would want to do with me on this particular day. I try to throughout my day practice his presence. While I am driving in the car I am often carrying on a conversation with Him in my head.

While writing these devotional are part of my quiet time, I try to even set them aside for a time. The priority is to spend time with the Lord not to write devotionals. They are a priority don't get me wrong but I am aware that they are an overflow of my time with the Lord. They are not the purpose for my quiet time with the Lord.

Your quiet time may look totally different than mine. You may be more linear and have set things that you do with out fail. You may have a pattern or a set way that you approach God. My point is that you make spending time with the Lord a priority. If you ask Him he will help you figure it out. I know for some people they find the Lord when they walk in the woods. Some may not be morning types and your best quiet time may be late at night. The Lord knows how he wired you and he knows how to reach you. If you don't set aside time for Him guarding and protecting it as your top priority other things will crowd it out.

Lord thank you for the quiet times you spend with each of us. I thank you for the unique variety of ways that you connect intimately with each of us. I pray that you would help those readers who are struggling. Some are feeling that they just never measure up. That their quiet time is not what it should be. Perhaps there are changes they do need to make but Lord I pray that you would silence for them those feelings of lack, inadequacy, feelings of why bother because they are not good enough, or holy enough, or ______ enough. Help them take those thought captive in this instant and allow them to feel your great love and know that you accept and treasure them in this moment. Lord today I ask that those praying along would join me in praying for Mark and Lori Kenney and the Healing Stream Stations and the ministry that is going out all over the world. Thank you for the people who are being encouraged, and strengthened. For those who are finding courage in you to take that next step of faith.

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